World Population Day 2010 — “Every One Counts”




V. Mohan Rao*

“Every One Counts” is the theme of World Population Day 2010. Which falls on 11th of July. This is an annual event, which seeks to raise awareness about global population issues. This year’s theme is about encouraging people to participate in their official census and other methods of collecting data on populations. The event, established by the United Nations Development Programme in 1989, seeks an increased public awareness of population issues like importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal health, sexual and reproductive health, and human rights which have a serious impact on the world’s development and environment.

World – India

The World population is estimated to be around 6.8 billion by end of June 2010 as against 5 billion in July 1987. At the current rate of growth in population, the number of people in the world is likely to reach 7 billion by October 2012, according to analysts. The population in India has increased more than three times from 350 million in 1947 to 1.15 billion in 2010. As per Report of the Working Group on Population Stabilization – 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012), Indian population is expected to overtake that of China by the year 2030 and the country will be the largest in the world with an estimated population of around 1.53 billion. The annual growth rate of population in India has fallen from 2.14 during the decade (1981-1991) to 1.93 during the decade (1991-2001), according to the population census data released by the Registrar General of India. (Population projections upto the year 2026 were done by a Technical Group constituted by the National Commission on Population and according to these estimates, the population of India in 2026 is expected to be around

1.40 billion.)

National Population Policy 2000

The Government has adopted a National Population Policy in February 2000, which provides for holistic approach for achieving population stabilization in the country. It affirms the commitment of the Government towards voluntary and informed choice and consent of citizens while availing of reproductive health care services and continuation of the target-free approach in administering family planning services.

Initiatives To Check Population Growth

In pursuance of the National Population Policy, the Government had set up “National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)” and “Jansankya Sthirata Kosh (JSK)” to check the growth of population. The aims and objectives include encouragement of Fixed day, Fixed Place Family Planning Services round the year through 24X7 Primary Health Centres and other facilities under the Health Mission, increasing the basket of choice by systematically and carefully introducing new and effective contraceptives in the programme, increase in the compensation package for sterilization. To support this, a National Family Planning Insurance Scheme was also started since November 2005 to compensate the sterilization acceptors for failures, complications and deaths. With a view to achieve good health for people, especially the poor and the underprivileged, the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012) aims at reducing the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) to one per one thousand live births, Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) to 28 per one thousand live births and the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) to 2.1.

Infant Mortality

India’s infant mortality per 1000 live births is 53 in 2009 as against 46 across the world. The total fertility rate in the same year is 2.68 as against world’s 2.54. The 11th five year plan aims at raising public health spending to at least 2 per cent of GDP as against the present 1.45 (as per 2009-2010 budget estimates.) In this direction, the allocation for the Rural Health Mission and a number of other programmes has also been enhanced substantially in the first four year of the Plan period. As per the Sample Registration System of Registrar General of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs, the infant mortality rate is estimated to be 53 per thousand lives for the year 2008. As per a report published by UNICEF, India is ranked 49 with 143 countries having a lower Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) than India. Another UNICEF report in 2010 said India ranked at 49th out of 193 countries in descending order of the Under Five Mortality Rate (U5MR). The government has launched a new training programme called “Navajat Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram” for providing care to the new born at birth to reduce the neo-natal deaths. The programmes takes care of the main components of care at birth like resuscitation, management of hypotherimia, infection prevention and promotion of early initiation of breastfeeding. The new progamme will complement the existing programme and will be of help in reducing Infant Mortality Rate (IMR). Several states are also setting up Sick New Born Care Units (SNCUs), Child Stabilization Units and New Born Care Corners under the National Rural Health Mission.

Sex Ratio & Girl Child

The Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing the scheme of “Dhanalakshmi” as a pilot programme to provide a set of staggered financial incentives for families to encourage them to retain the girl child. The Government has also declared 24th of January every year as a “National Child Day” to bring to centre-stage the problems faced by the girl child and create national awareness. The Government has also taken several measures to improve the sex ratio at birth in the country. During the 1991 Census, sex ratio in the country was 927 females per one thousand males, which increased to 933 females per 1000 males during the 2001 census. The Government has enacted the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selections) Act, 1994 under which stringent punishments have been prescribed for using pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic techniques to illegally determine sex of the foetus.

Life Expectancy At Birth

The average global life expectancy at birth reported in the “Human Development Report” 2009 is 67.5 years whereas the average life expectancy at birth for India is 63.4 years.

U.N. Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG)-5 mandates a reduction in the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015. The targets set by India under the Rural Health Mission (2005-2012) are in line with the MDG goals and aim to reduce MMR to less than 100 per one lakh live births by the year 2012. As per the recent survey report released in 2009 by the Registrar General of India, the MMR has declined from 301 per one lakh live births during the period 2001-03 to 254 per one lakh live births during the period 2004-05. The Government has taken several steps to reduce maternal mortality. They included “Janani Suraksh Yojana (JSY)”, a cash benefit scheme to promote institutional delivery with a special focus on pregnant women belonging to below poverty line and scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

National Rural Health Mission (NRHM))

The Government has launched the flagship programme of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to improve primary health care system and to provide medical facilities to citizens with special focus on 18 states. Population stablization is one of its objectives. The Mission provides a thrust for reduction of child and maternal mortality and reduction of the fertility rates. The main aim of the Mission, launched in April 2005, is to provide accessible, affordable, accountable, effective and reliable primary healthcare facilities, especially to the poor and vulnerable sections of the population. It also seeks to strengthen the public health delivery services at all levels. The initiatives launched by the Health Mission aim to reduce mortality and morbidity so that the life expectancy of the people will improve. The Mission also includes, the second phase of Reproductive and Child Health Programmes (RCH-II), which intends to improve the performance of family welfare by reducing total fertility rate, maternal and infant morbidity and mortality and unwanted pregnancies. It provides assistance to state governments for strengthening the public health system by way of improving health infrastructure, augmentation of human resources and community involvement in delivery services. One of the Goals of the Mission is to achieve the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 2.1 by 2012. TFR in India, which was 2.9 in 2005 has reduced to 2.6 in 2008. So far, under the Health Mission, 7.49 lakh “Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs)” have been selected and 5.65 lakh trained. Around 18,776 doctors and 87,973 para-medical personnel have been engaged on contract basis.

Health Expenditure

The Government has raised the plan outlay for the health sector to Rs.72,731 crore in the first four years of the 11th Plan (2007-2011) from an actual expenditure of Rs.36,079 crore in the 10th five year plan (2002-03 to 2006-07). The World Bank has committed to extend an assistance of 360 Million US Dollars for RCH-II programme during the period from August 2006 to September 2010.

Women Empowerment And Youth

The Government has been implementing several projects since long to contain population growth on its own and also in collaboration with several external agencies. Realizing that women empowerment is key to success, the Government had already launched several schemes to ensure good health, quality education and reduce poverty among the people. All out efforts are also being made to focus on country’s youth population. The country has nearly 315 million young people aged 10-24 years who are needed to be educated about sexual and reproductive health choices.

Disclaimer : The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of INVC

*Freelance Writer




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